Strasbourg is known to be a beautiful city with many attributes and historical significance. I recommend visiting the city at least once; but going there once a month, on the tax payers’ account, is quite excessive.
I wrote many posts on the Parliament’s multiple seats arrangement in both Polish and English. Unfortunately since my last post on the issue, the facts haven’t changed and we, directly elected members of the European Parliament, are still deprived of the legal right to decide where and when we sit.
An opportunity for a change is coming in the context of the 2014 European elections.
It is no secret that the EP has an image problem which is best illustrated in the low turnout of voters to the European elections. The Croatian first Parliamentary elections, where turnout was less than 21%, demonstrates that.
Citizens’ opinions on the role and functions of the EP vary. According to the EP Eurobarometer for 2011 only 26% of EU citizens saw the EP’s image as positive. 26% viewed the EP in a negative way while 45% of the respondents held a neutral opinion.
I am confident that our seat arrangement, which is estimated to cost tax payers’ about €200m a year, adds up to the problematic image of the EP.
While the pro Single Seat Alliance is growing and extending beyond our institution to also include Commissioners and Political leaders (Poland’s Foreign Minister Mr. Radek Sikorski expressed his support for the one seat along with other leaders), the 2014 elections present us with a concrete opportunity to move forward on this topic.
How to make the best of this occasion and advance a roadmap on the single seat was the topic of a public hearing organized in the European Parliament on 23 April by the EP cross-party Single Seat Alliance, of which I am a member.
In addition to discussing the adoption of a manifesto and pledge for a single seat, to be integrated in our election campaigns ahead of the European elections, the seminar also addressed the possible “compensation” to Strasbourg, if and when our demands are met.
The majority of us agree that Strasbourg should host another prestigious European institution. The first European university or the European Court of Human Rights are several of the suggestions discussed as alternatives.
While we fully respect and recognize the views of the French and Luxembourg governments, they should also respect and recognize the European Parliament’s right to decide where and when it meets.
Currently the Parliament can ask for a revision of the Treaty under article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty; however without the full support of all Council members our request will be in vain.
This is where European citizens can make the difference. By successfully integrating the seat question in our political campaigns for the European elections, we are able to present our citizens with the facts about the costs of the seat arrangement.
Hopefully, this will encourage them to take action and pressure national leaders to put an end to the wasteful environmental and financial spending of having the three working places.
Greetings from the European Parliament,
Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg
Links to the Single Seat Pamphlet:
Link to article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty: http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-european-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/135-article-48.html